Bette Midler

Bette Midler

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by Bette Midler
     
 

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"An earthy mix of blues, R&B, and '40s boogie-woogie" is how Bill Carpenter describes Bette Midler's second album, a strangely elaborate transition containing some of the elements which made The Divine Miss M so divine. The album features superb production from her former piano player, Barry Manilow, and the man who would help craft 1979's disco effort,

Overview

"An earthy mix of blues, R&B, and '40s boogie-woogie" is how Bill Carpenter describes Bette Midler's second album, a strangely elaborate transition containing some of the elements which made The Divine Miss M so divine. The album features superb production from her former piano player, Barry Manilow, and the man who would help craft 1979's disco effort, Thighs and Whispers, Arif Mardin. The result is a solid album without the Top 40 fascinations of "Do You Wanna Dance?," Buzzy Linhart /Mark "Moogy" Klingman's "Friends," or "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." Rather than focus on a hit the way Clive Davis helped Manilow go to number one with "Mandy" in 1974, this big cast concentrates on being artistic, and on that level, Bette Midler works. No, she isn't Shirley Bassey or Eartha Kitt, but material from Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer, Kurt Weill, and Bertolt Brecht, along with a dash of Bob Dylan, really covers the gamut. Where Midler could excel is with the girl group stuff, touched upon on The Divine Miss M. The medley of "Uptown" and "Da Doo Run Run" is fun, but lacking the satisfying elements Phil Spector jammed into his 45s. Midler really needed to go for it here, an explosive remake of "He's a Rebel" or "Da Doo Run Run" would have been appropriate for 1973, not something that sounds like it was recorded during a live performance at the Continental Baths. It's literally a cast of thousands; Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Steve Gadd, and Luther Rix are just some of the drummers and guitarists Cornell Dupree and Hugh McCracken are onboard, as are Kenny Ascher, Don Grolnick, and Barry Manilow on keys, just to name a few. The talent was all lined up, and the music is immaculate, but there is no concentration on returning to the singles charts. "I Shall Be Released" as recorded here is just perfect for an album with a whisper of gospel, but still holds something back. A choir of voices and a production like Melanie Safka's "Lay Down" would have broken this wide open on radio. It wasn't until Mardin produced "Married Men" six years later on the Thighs and Whispers album that Midler would return to contemporary radio, and like "Friends," her hit from 1973, "Married Men" only lingered at the bottom rung of the Top 40 charts. Great vocals, great musicianship, but no focus for radio action. Rita Coolidge took Jackie Wilson's "Higher & Higher" Top Three in 1977, and Bette Midler ends the album with a marvelous version of that four years before Coolidge. The trouble is, it's all so artsy. It's a beautiful record ignoring the need to match the success of her first two singles, and in a world driven by radio, where timing is everything, the question to this day remains -- why? There's an excellent version of Johnny Mercer's "Drinking Again" which Rod Stewart had cut with the Jeff Beck Group; it's a song that should have dominated '70s radio which says, perhaps, the producers were being too careful for this record's own good.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/20/2008
Label:
Rhino Flashback
UPC:
0081227992965
catalogNumber:
82779
Rank:
9618

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bette Midler   Primary Artist,Vocals
Barry Manilow   Percussion,Piano,Conductor,Background Vocals
Don Grolnick   Keyboards
Chuck Rainey   Bass,Bass Guitar
Grady Tate   Drums
Ralph MacDonald   Percussion
Sharon Redd   Background Vocals
Tasha Thomas   Background Vocals
Kenny Ascher   Keyboards
Kenneth Bichel   Synthesizer
Shirley Brewer   Background Vocals
Ann S. Clark   Background Vocals
Charlotte Crossley   Background Vocals
Cornell Dupree   Guitar
Steve Gadd   Drums
Robin Grean   Background Vocals
Milt Hinton   Bass,Bass Guitar
Gail Kantor   Background Vocals
Will Lee   Bass,Bass Guitar
Arif Mardin   Percussion
Rick Marotta   Drums
Hugh McCracken   Guitar
Merle Miller   Background Vocals
Gene Orloff   Concert Master
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie   Drums
Pat Rebillot   Keyboards
Luther Rix   Percussion,Drums
Bill Salter   Bass,Bass Guitar
Sylvia Shemwell   Background Vocals
Myrna Smith   Background Vocals
David Spinozza   Guitar
Frank Vento   Guitar
Stu Woods   Bass,Bass Guitar
Miss M   Vocals

Technical Credits

Bette Midler   Composer
Barry Manilow   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Vocal Arrangements
Jimmy Douglass   Engineer
Lewis Hahn   Engineer,Remixing
Arif Mardin   Producer,Horn Arrangements,Remixing
Gene Orloff   Contributor
Gene Paul   Engineer
Bobby Warner   Engineer
Buzz Richmond   Engineer
Richard Amsel   Artwork,Cover Art
Elliot Sheiner   Engineer
Robert Warner   Engineer

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Bette Midler 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Bette Midler. The songs on this album are all excellent, espececially the ones where she digs her voice right into you, like ''Skylark,'' ''Drinkin' Again,'' and ''Twisted.'' Bette is very talented. This album, originally released in 1973, should be considered a legendary milestone of Midler's career.